Pro Bassin’s Unlikely Family Man
Jun 19th, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Jun 19th, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Let’s jump into the way-back machine and set the destination for the USA during the 1990’s. The world of pro bass fishing was gaining some serious boost as a sport throughout the land. ESPN had yet to purchase B.A.S.S. and the FLW was just starting out.
In this whirlwind of a time for tournament fishing development, moving from the strictly “old boy” events where information about winners and their techniques wasn’t available until you received your subscription to Bassmaster Magazine. A time when The Bassmasters was on the now defunct The Nashville Network (TNN) and eventually the FLW became all the rage on ESPN, a young, spiked-hair juggernaut emerged, Skeet Reese.
Sure, Reese is now one of the established pros, but back then who would’ve thought that he would become one of the poster boys for the idea of a family man who just happens to fish for a living? Well, not this scribe.
Reese had hair that was reminiscent of current TV chef and game show host Guy Fieri. He would dance on stage to get the attention of the media and snag some TV time. He let everyone know he was a “dancer” in a previous existence. Reese had a funky way of dressing as well, compared to the overly subdued “pro bass” crowd at the time. His bright yellow and black outfits with matching shoes seemed outlandish at the time, but of course set the trend for the next 20 years of self-branding. Add a quick wit, along with a somewhat sarcastic attitude, and Bam!, a game changer.
So, how did a “wild child” Californian become a model family man and an A-1 example of how to be a pro bass angler?
“I never pictured having a family of my own growing up,” said Skeet Reese. “Until I was 27, I never thought I would be married. At 28, I was already making a living as a pro bass angler, then I met my wife Kim and it all changed my mind. I thought now I have a life and travel partner.
“After we were married we talked about playing it by ear as far as kids go,” said Reese. “Then when I turned 32 it became clear to me that I wanted to have children and so did Kim. Once we decided, it was great. Until you have kids of your own you never really know the true meaning of unconditional love.”
After Skeet and Kim had their two daughters, Lea and Courtney, Skeet needed to focus on the business aspect of his career, providing for his family, professionally representing his sponsors and most importantly being a husband and a father.
“It’s funny, but the most difficult things can be the day-to-day grind in life,” said Reese. “Being at a gymnastics practice, soccer practice, a recital. Being a part of my girls’ life is so important to me.
“I came from a broken family. After the age of nine, I lived with my father in a bachelor house. In fact, I lived as a bachelor up until I got married. Until I was 24, I never lived in one house for more than two years at a time. There is no way I will ever let my children know what that is like.”
Distance from his family and home is still the most difficult aspect of touring for Reese to deal with, but technology and his wife’s personal experience bring a balance that provides exceptional stability for him.
“Since most of the events are based so far from California I am gone from home for weeks at a time,” said Reese. “A week or two isn’t so bad, but when it’s a month or more away it gets really tough.
“But the new technology like Facetime allows me to at least see my family while I am talking to them.
“Plus, my wife is very understanding about having to travel for a living. Her father was the keyboard player for Santana. So she grew up with a dad touring the world. She gets it.
With his hectic travel schedule for personal appearances and fishing the B.A.S.S. Elite Series, Reese doesn’t seem the type to slow down, but the day may come when he pulls back and smells the roses a bit more.
“I can imagine a day where I step back and spend more time at home,” said Reese. “One thing I want to make sure I succeed at is being a good dad and husband. You can’t replace time spent with your children.
“I’ve already succeeded in this business to this point. I’m proud of the fact I can make a living in this business. Heck, if I knew when I started what I know now I may not have continued on, but I did and I’ve done pretty well for myself and my family.”
Watch for regular articles from Outddoor Writer Dave Landahl at BassFIRST all through the tournament season and into the Fall and Winter.